« | Home | »

At the Manor of the White Queen

Tags: |

As the floodwaters surged through Pakistan, killing hundreds of people and displacing millions, the president was on his way to Europe. Properties had to be inspected; his son had to be crowned as the future leader of Pakistan at a rally in Birmingham. And to reinforce Zardari’s pose as the permanent widower of the ‘goddess of democracy’, the kids had to be introduced to both Sarko and Cameron.

Mercifully the coronation in Birmingham was postponed. It was too crass even for the loyalists. Instead Zardari delivered an appalling speech and a Kashmiri elder, angered by the nonsense being spouted, rose to his feet and hurled one of his shoes at the businessman-president. Zardari left the hall in anger. ‘Zardari joins the Shoe Club with Bush’ was the headline in the News. The report continued:

Some demonstrators held up shoes to pictures of Zardari, while others held placards reading, “1000s dying, president is holidaying”, “Thousands killed, millions homeless, what president is laughing for?” and “Are the Zardaris enjoying England while Pakistan drowns?”

As images of Pakistan coping with the crisis and of its destitute people were being shown on European television, a French air force helicopter was transporting the richest man in Pakistan to the Manoir de la Reine Blanche for a short stopover in the 16th-century château, with its five acres of parkland, lakes and forests. Originally built for the widow of King Philippe VI it is now the property of another widower. How can he afford it? Every Pakistani knows as do more than a few members of the European judiciary who were hurriedly made to drop charges when this joker was considered a vital ally in the ‘war on terror’.

Back at home the Jang group, the country’s largest media empire, was advised by the government to exercise restraint and not show images of the shoe-throwing incident on Geo TV. They rejected the suggestion and instead interviewed the shoe-thrower. Unable to curb YouTube, Zardari’s men switched Geo and another network, ARY, off the air in Karachi and parts of Sind. A few minutes ago a friend emailed me from Karachi:

And now hundreds of jiyalas [unthinking party loyalists] gathered outside Geo’s Karachi office, pelting the building with stones and shoes. All in reaction to Geo’s decision to report on the shoe-hurling incident. Jang groups newspapers torched all over Karachi. No sign of the police. In reaction, Geo replaying clips of Benazir Bhutto promoting press freedom…

Comments on “At the Manor of the White Queen”

  1. Alia says:

    Its amazaing, simply amaaing.I don’t understand one thing, does Zardari understand what he is doing. He has literally sealed his political career by showing his indifference to the drowning Pakistanis.He simply is heartless.

  2. kannan srinivasan says:

    Has Tariq Ali considered that the subcontinent politically separated at Independence is actually united by an identical predatory class in all three countries?
    And perhaps he might also puncture the myth of Tom Friedman (Mr World is Flat) that the Indian bourgeoisie is haute or any more sophisticated than the Pakistani.

Comment on this post

Log in or register to post a comment.

  • Recent Posts

    RSS – posts

  • Contributors

  • Recent Comments

    • name on Who is the enemy?: Simply stating it is correct doesn't make it so, I just wish you would apply the same epistemic vigilance to "Muslim crimes" as you do to their Hebrew...
    • Glen Newey on Unwinnable War: The legal issue admits of far less clarity than the simple terms in which you – I imagine quite sincerely – frame them. For the benefit of readers...
    • Geoff Roberts on The New Normal: The causes go back a long way into the colonial past, but the more immediate causes stem from the activities of the US forces in the name of freedom a...
    • sol_adelman on The New Normal: There's also the fact that the French state denied the mass drownings of '61 even happened for forty-odd years. No episode in post-war W European hist...
    • funky gibbon on At Wembley: If England get France in the quarter finals of Euro 16 I expect that a good deal of the fraternity will go out the window

    RSS – comments

  • Contact

  • Blog Archive

  • From the LRB Archive

    Edward Said: The Iraq War
    17 April 2003

    ‘This is the most reckless war in modern times. It is all about imperial arrogance unschooled in worldliness, unfettered either by competence or experience, undeterred by history or human complexity, unrepentant in its violence and the cruelty of its technology.’

    David Runciman:
    The Politics of Good Intentions
    8 May 2003

    ‘One of the things that unites all critics of Blair’s war in Iraq, whether from the Left or the Right, is that they are sick of the sound of Blair trumpeting the purity of his purpose, when what matters is the consequences of his actions.’

    Simon Wren-Lewis: The Austerity Con
    19 February 2015

    ‘How did a policy that makes so little sense to economists come to be seen by so many people as inevitable?’

    Hugh Roberts: The Hijackers
    16 July 2015

    ‘American intelligence saw Islamic State coming and was not only relaxed about the prospect but, it appears, positively interested in it.’

Advertisement Advertisement